Hopefully you enjoyed reading about my experience fabric shopping in Chiang Mai. I’m sure what you really care about is my spoils, so here they are!
I started my Chiang Mai fabric shopping with something shiny and pink (not a big surprise to anyone, I’m sure). It was stacked outside the store with many other bolts of eye-catching fabric, much like the stores I used to frequent on my trips to the L.A. fashion district (I’m a sucker for shiny no matter where in the world I am, I guess). It’s synthetic, but decent quality, albeit a bit scratchy on the wrong side, so whatever it becomes will need to be lined/underlined.
The other synthetic fabric that I bought (yes, it was labeled “Thai silk”. no, it is not actually silk. trust me) had a lustrous gold and silver peacock design woven into a border print. Like the pink fabric above, it’s quite narrow (30″?). It’s pretty heavy, with almost no drape, so probably suited for a jacket (unintentional pun there), but I’ve got to come up with something creative that really shows off the peacocks.
Now on to the amazing assortment of beautiful, locally made cottons I got! Gaye started our trip by gifting me a length of mudmee (the Thai word for ikat, also spelled as matmi or mudmi) made in the Mae Ta village of Lampang Province. Gaye lives in Lampang, which is about an hour and a half drive away from Chiang Mai.
Next came two mid-weight cottons, moderately course weave with a good drape. I bought both of these spurred by delightful sewing chat that Gaye and I had been having. We were sharing our mutual hatred of the color beige, my love of bright colors, and talking about how silly it was that I sewed so much beige and gray this winter. We had just gotten to the point of our mutual like of gray for how well it plays off of bright colors, and I found the pink and gray cotton, so I had to buy it. Behind that bolt was the orange, which we decided was a “subtle orange” and since one can so rarely say “subtle orange” it too must be bought.
My biggest splurge was perhaps an assortment of embroidered trims in a traditional Hmong style. I swooned over the bright colors and gorgeous geometric designs. It’s going to take some creativity to use these because they are quite stiff (perhaps they will soften in a wash?). A traditional Hmong outfit would use them running down the length of sleeves or a blouse front, as cuffs, or on a skirt hem. I actually have quite a collection of beautiful trims at home but rarely use them since I never quite remember to plan a garment around them and they never work as an afterthought. So, I promise to myself that I will be planning a garment(/s) around these gorgeous trims!
I bought a selection of midweight cottons (with less drape and a bit tighter weave than the ones above). They were labeled as Jomthong salong, meaning that they were made in the Jomthong (also written as Chom Thong or Jomtong) region, again not far from Chiang Mai in northern Thailand.
The Thai mudmee (a.k.a. ikats) were where I went a little crazy. I was very reasonable on my first trip, buying only one double-length (~4 yards), saving some money to buy silk. And then Gaye and I didn’t find silk, so I dragged Adam back to the Warorot market a few days after my initial trip with Gaye and that’s where a whole stack of mudmee ended up in my shopping bag. Oops :)
Most of the mudmee I bought had 2-3 colors although I did buy a couple of fancy 5 color fabrics as well. My sweet, patient, understanding husband sat out front of the shop, patiently entertaining himself with his iphone, while I went on a fabric frenzy inside. Best honeymoon gift he could give me!
I feel a tiny bit guilty about buying this amazing black and green fabric. There was a length of it hanging in the front of the shop that Gaye was admiring, saying that she hadn’t seen anything like it. The shopkeeper explained that it is Burmese. (Quick geography lesson, most of Thailand’s western border is shared with Burma/Myanmar). When I went back to the shop, I discovered that there was a whole stack of similar fabrics in different colors (although I happened to end up deciding on the one that Gaye liked so much. But no fear Gaye, I’m not a horrible friend! There was more!)
Finally, in a little drugstore where we ducked in to buy some sunscreen, there was a whole shelf of Thai knitting and crochet magazines! Of course I had to buy one. I’m not sure that I will ever knit anything from the magazine (although maybe I have to because it makes for a great story), but the patterns are very heavily charted, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to figure out the pattern, right??
So, do tell! What’s your favorite of my fabric scores? And how would you sew up any (or all) of these fabrics!? Have you made anything fabulous with ikat that I should imitate?